Don’t have money for air conditioning? Here are some ways to stay cool

Don’t have money for air conditioning? Here are some ways to stay cool

Cassidy Chansirik
 | 
As if we didn't have enough problems in this country....

Right now, 15 states are under Heat Advisory and Warnings. With excessive humidity accompanying this heat wave, cities like Washington, D.C. will reach temperatures as high as 100 degrees this week. 

In a heat wave, it’s only natural to want to turn on air conditioning (AC) to cool off.

But for individual incomes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, paying for air conditioning is a luxury that can’t be afforded. According to
Bloomberg CityLab, the 10% of households that do not have AC are disproportionately low income or minorities

We looked into your legal options to help you get AC during a heat wave. Here's what we found out:

If I haven’t been able to pay my bills, can my AC be turned off?

In some cities, your air conditioning can be turned off if you haven't paid your electricity bill. However because of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended cities and states to assist with paying utility bills during extreme heat conditions. 

In New York City, officials plan to double the number of subsidies provided to help people with utility bills. 

If you are unable to pay utility bills because your income has been impacted by COVID-19, contact your electricity provider to see if they have any relief programs in place. 

In California, Southern California Edison (SCE) has temporarily suspended service disconnections because of nonpayment and is waiving late fees. In Texas, CenterPoint Energy offers payment assistance under their Pandemic Preparedness Plan. 

Here is a list of energy providers by state and how you can contact them. 

If I don’t have AC at home, what are some ways to stay cool?

It’s important to remember that we are still in a pandemic, and the ways we’d normally use to stay cool aren’t all possible. 

Most pools, for example, are closed. 

Research from the CDC has shown that the virus can be spread between people by air-conditioned ventilation, and as a result, many public cooling centers, public libraries, and shopping centers have closed. 

The American Heart Association and CDC have outlined some ways to stay cool without AC: 
  • Use an electric fan 
  • Take cool showers or baths
  • Sponge yourself with a wet washcloth while sitting in front of fan (this is known as evaporative cooling) 
  • Swim in lap pools that use chlorine disinfectant
  • Go outdoors and stay in shaded areas during early mornings or late afternoons when temperatures are cooler 

To encourage social distancing efforts while beating the heat, some cities have created “cool streets.” In Oakland, California, 10% of streets with ample shade have been closed to vehicles. In Richmond, Virginia, select streets have transformed into evening social spaces for people to use if they don’t have AC at home. 

You must know that even if you are outside in a shaded area, you can still suffer from dehydration or a heat stroke. According to researchers at Duke University, an estimated 12,000 Americans die of heat-related causes each year. 

What are the signs of dehydration? 

The National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus says that the following signs can signal dehydration in adults: 
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling extremely thirsty
  • Urinating and sweating less 
  • Dark-colored urine. 

For infants/children, the signs of dehydration are different:
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • High fever
  • No wet diaper for 3 hours or more
  • Unusually sleepy or drowsy
  • Irritability
  • Crying without tears
  • Sunken eyes
What are the signs of a heat stroke?

The American Heart Association says that the symptoms of a heat stroke include: 
  • Reddish skin
  • Confusion, changed personality, or altered mental states
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Quick and shallow breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Throbbing headache

If you can't pay your electricity bill, you are probably struggling to pay other bills.

A lawyer can help you negotiate bills with creditors or advise you when to declare bankruptcy.


Don't be ashamed. Reach out for help


 
This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.
 
Cassidy Chansirik

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